South Korea: North Lacks Re-Entry Technology for ICBMs

Tested Missile May Not Be a Proper ICBM

Worries about last week’s reported successful test of an ICBM by North Korea may have been overstated,according to South Korean National Intelligence Service officials who say that the missile might not have been a proper ICBM at all, lacking key technology to make such a missile work.

The question centers around the re-entry technology, or lack thereof, of the tested missile. The missile in question was fired mostly vertical, and just splashed into the ocean off of Japan’s coast. A lower trajectory would give it a theoretical range into Alaska, but that’s a big if.

South Korean officials say North Korea has no testing facilities for re-entry technology at all, and can therefore be assumed not to have mastered that capability yet. Flinging the missile a long way is comparatively easy, but getting the warhead to survive re-entry and precisely hit a target, the officials say, is likely not something they can do yet.

North Korea hasn’t responded to the doubts, but tends to dramatically overstate its technological progress, meaning that its claim of a successful ICBM test may have ultimately been just the latest exaggeration, and the test was of something short of a proper ICBM missile.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of